Brian Blanchfield is the author of two books of poetry---Not Even Then (University of California Press) and A Several World, (Nightboat Books, 2014)---as well as a chapbook, The History of Ideas, 1973-2012 (Spork Press) and a collection of essays, in progress: Onesheets, a finalist for a 2013 Creative Capital Innovative Literature grant. His recent work has appeared in The Nation, Chicago Review, The Brooklyn Rail, A Public Space, Lana Turner, The Paris Review, Web Conjunctions, Guernica, The Awl, and The Poetry Project Newsletter, among other journals and magazines. Born in 1973, in Winston-Salem, NC, he spent his twenties in New York City, where he worked in the editorial department of Farrar, Straus and Giroux and taught creative writing and literature at Pratt Institute of Art. He has taught also as core faculty in the graduate writing programs of Otis College of Art and Design, in Los Angeles, and at the University of Montana, Missoula. A poetry editor of Fence, he lives in Tucson, where he teaches creative writing in the University of Arizona Honors College and runs the Intermezzo Reading Series at The Temple Lounge.
According to Herodotus
The Phoenicians were good at trenches. A channel
with steep sides often broke, they saw, so
they knew to widen out near the lip.
If they were digging waterways, about twice as wide
as volume demanded was optimal
With bridges, not so much. Built a couple crossing
a strait, one made of flax, and the other,
papyrus. That is history. A paper bridge
didn’t hold, though, after a storm, doesn’t. That
is engineering. The final chariot
is the chariot befitting the king, carted right up
to overlook what he had arranged
to surpass. Wouldn’t. That is policy.
A people far from sovereign.
Good at trenches, bad at bridges.
On the job after the ransack and pillage
of another people. Only in Arizona and only now
is Phoenician a demonym. I mean, what I heard is
there was no Phoenix home
to Phoenicians destroying Greece
for Persia. Only a story of a bird upstart
where another bird burned. Demonym has its own
Wikipedia page. The word is
twenty-two years old. Imagine your own
twenty-two year old [demonym here] here:
curly hair, lashes, headphones if you like.
Tell him, if you like, learning where he’s from,
what he is. Now imagine
learning where he’s from, being what you are,
sending him back. That is
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